Language is, of course, the basis of the formation of human groups, as a means of expressing thoughts and feelings, a communication tool. It is estimated that there are about 100 official languages, and at least 3,000 distinct dialects in the world. Only a few countries are homogeneous in linguistic terms. International business requires greater concentration of language use. English is currently dominant, as an estimated 2/3 of business correspondence in the world is carried out in this language (Peterson & Pike, 2002). However, many countries have a desire to use only their own language (e.g., France) (Moore, 2005). In addition, not only Latin American Spanish differs from that in Spain, but also the languages in the U.S., Canada, Australia are different from the language of the United Kingdom. Ignoring this fact can lead at best to confusion.
Non-verbal language includes facial expressions, gestures, posture, and distance of communication between people. Speaking of gestures, it is necessary to note their national, age, and cultural characteristics. Each nation is the bearer of specific forms of sign expression, as well as other means of external expression. The gestures of the speaker have quite distinct national character (Peterson & Pike, 2002).custom essays
Various postures and their variations, as gestures, are largely dependent on cultural context. Social norms of gesture, its stylization and ritualization derive from certain requirements of life of the society, which, in turn, is determined by the method of production. In some cases, this dependence can be demonstrated with difficulty, because tradition and borrowing from other cultures also play an important role (Cutler, 2005).
For example, in the conversation words are in most cases accompanied by action, involving predominantly hands. And certain gestures have different meanings in different countries. The Italians and French are known for using hands when they need to strongly reaffirm the words or make conversation more relaxed. Germans often raise eyebrows to express admiration for someone’s idea. The same gesture in Britain would be seen as an expression of skepticism (Cutler, 2005).
In most Western civilizations, there are no special preferences for left or right hand (except for the traditional handshake with the right hand). But one should be careful in the Middle East, where the left hand has ill fame (French, 2010).
Ignorance in terms of cultural differences can also easily lead to misunderstandings and false judgments about the behavior and culture of others. Thus, the distance between people during conversation is different in different cultures. Moreover, these differences are usually unconscious (Huang & Vliert, 2003). During business conversations, for example, the Russians stand closer to each other than the Americans. Reducing usual distance can be interpreted by Americans as a kind of violation of the “sovereignty”, over-familiarity, while for the Russians increasing distance means coldness in the relationship, over-formality. This misreading of behavior surely disappears after several meetings, but at first it may cause some psychological discomfort in communication (Koslowsky et al., 2002).
This shows how easy it is to offense unintentionally one’s business partners representing other national cultures. If one can consciously anticipate the reaction of the interlocutors, watching their non-verbal language, it might help avoid many misunderstandings.
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